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Vagias v. Woodmont Properties, L.L.C.

A-1683-06T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2007) (Unpublished)

BROKERS; MISREPRESENTATIONS —Even if a broker has misrepresented a home’s particular location or which school the buyer’s children would attend, if that misrepresentation does not result in any ascertainable loss, the buyer has no claim against its broker.

Two homebuyers sought to purchase a home in a particular municipality. They purchased the home with the assistance of a real estate broker who told the homebuyers that the house was in their desired section of the municipality. After closing, they found out that they were in a different section than the one they had hoped to move into, and that their son would be attending a different elementary school than expected. The homebuyers sued the broker for misrepresentation, arguing that they suffered ascertainable losses as a result of purchasing a home in an area other than expected. Both the homebuyers and the broker relied on expert testimony to establish the value of the house as compared to a house in the desired section and whether the homebuyers had suffered any financial harm as a result of buying their house. Counsel for the homebuyers told the jury that their decision on the claim of an ascertainable loss hinged on the testimony of the homebuyers’ expert witness that the homebuyers overpaid for the house. The jury found that the broker had misrepresented the home’s particular location and which school the homebuyers’ son would attend, but that her misrepresentation did not result in any ascertainable loss.
On appeal, the Court rejected the homebuyers’ argument that the jury’s determinations were inconsistent. It held that a finding of misrepresentation does not automatically require a finding of ascertainable loss. The Court found that the jury was neither required to accept the findings of the homebuyers’ expert witness nor required to believe the homebuyers’ testimony that they bought the house because it was in a particular part of the municipality. The Court noted that it was not a court’s place to second-guess the jury’s finding which potentially could have had differing outcomes. It also noted that the homebuyers’ counsel failed to raise any objection at trial to the questions presented to the jury and that such arguments could not be presented on appeal. Thus, the Court found no reason to set aside the jury’s verdict as a miscarriage of justice.

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